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Self-Sabotage: When You Are Your Worse Enemy

self-sabotage

Have you noticed that you’re tripping all over yourself?

When I was a kid I always imagined going straight to college then finishing up school and jumping into a career. The picture I had in my head was pretty seamless.

But when I was in high school it didn’t quite start out that way. I went ahead and took all the testing that I was supposed to. Somehow when it came time to fill out the applications I stalled.

I always thought I’d make the early decision time period so I could get the news on my next endeavor before winter was over but I missed that. I still got a few in before the deadline but they weren’t really for the schools I wanted.

Because I slowly applied to the ones I didn’t want to attend, I missed the mark on the few that I did. I wasted time, majorly, which ended up pushing back the continuation of my academic career.

But why was I tripping myself up, it wasn’t part of the plan. And I was so comfortable with the plan. It was really the first plan I had ever made for my adult life and I screwed it up out of the gate.

Loss of control         

This was one of my first steps into adulthood. I was going into new territory. It was scary, I wasn’t in control, I didn’t know what to expect. The Saved by the Bell: College Years wasn’t preparation enough.

Self-sabotaging myself into staying in a similar, if not the same, place would help me retain some type of control. If I didn’t fill out and send in the applications I didn’t have to worry about adjusting to college life.

You can’t do it

When you try to do new things there always seems to be that voice in the back of your head that says you’re in over your head. Maybe I was listening to that voice too much.

As you’re starting something new it can become really easy to doubt yourself. Even the biggest ego can get deflated.

For the love of drama

No one really wants it, or is at least willing to admit it. But it does provide some kind of entertainment. Constant drama keeps you busy and always turns into a story people end up repeating time and time again.

Even though I didn’t really think this applied to my situation I still felt the need to consider it. I’ve seen so many people do things almost backwards just to retain a bit of excitement in their lives.

All of these have a major thing in common, a significant difference. Change is hard. It’s especially scary when it’s sudden or dependent on something else. Like not getting accepted into any schools would have been devastating and the end before it even started.

Even though I doubt that would be the case I just didn’t want to see it as a possibility.

Stop being a saboteur

In order to stop tripping over yourself you have to stop with the self-sabotage. Once your get out of your own way you’ll have fewer obstacles to get over. You’ll be able to achieve so much more.

You’ll be able to get closer to your dreams because you won’t be putting a wall up in between you and it. Your goals won’t seem so farfetched and they’ll be easier to achieve.

This is how:

1. Watch yourself

Whenever you’re changing your behavior you can easily slip back into your old traits without even realizing it. That’s why you have to keep your eye out. If you don’t you can end up in the same place a month later and not even know why.

Once you notice that you’re sabotaging yourself, putting more space between you and your goals, take a step back, examine your motives and adjust your actions.

2. Picture the outcome

Everything you do is for a reason. As things get tough or too real the end result can become hard to remember. And once you lose sight of the bigger picture it becomes easy to let it all fall apart.

When you start to make it harder on yourself remember why you’re doing it in the first place. Seeing yourself succeed motivates you to get the job done.

Of course they may still be some hiccups along the way but they’re less challenging when they’re not an inside job.

3. Accept imperfection

Nothing is perfect, it’s just your idea of perfection and sometimes your ideas don’t work out exactly to a tee. But if it still works out and serves the greater purpose what difference does it make.

Don’t let the idea of something having to be perfect get in your way. Perfection is not realistic and really just a concept. You can only achieve something that your mind thinks is attainable.

 

Don’t accept obstacles as a sign to throw in the towel. If you want it then go and get it.

When something comes up or you find that you’re tripping over yourself, take a moment and remember what it is all for. Take that time to think about why you’re doing it.

If you let self-sabotage take over again you may feel somewhat comfortable in the stagnant place of status quo, but you definitely won’t be happy there.

There’s no way you can live the life you want if you keep preventing progress. The entertainment resulting from the drama simply isn’t worth it.

This self-destructive behavior doesn’t have to be the end for you.

 

How about you…

What causes your self sabotage? How do you get out of your own way?

 

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About Lea


Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!


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  • i think we all are susceptible to self-sabotage. I know that I’ve done it in the past too. When I was in high school, I sabotaged relationships. It was mostly a defense mechanism so that i didn’t get hurt. Part of overcoming it was realizing that a good relationship means risking that you’ll get hurt. Unless I can accept that, I’ll never really have a good one. From then on, I’d watch myself to see any bad behavior and make corrections. It was a good idea.

    • Lea

      I know what you mean Steve. I learned that the hard way also. You do have to put yourself out there and take the risk to reap the reward.

  • Thanks for the post. Very well put!

    • Lea

      Thank you! Thanks for the comment.

  • Hello, Lea,

    What an excellent article on self sabotage, really thought-provoking so thanks for sharing.

    It takes a lot of maturity to break out of the perfectionism mold that we put ourselves in, and except that we are imperfect and always will be.

    I can definitely relate to having a tendency to wait until everything is perfect before launching or letting the world see my stuff.

    However, I’ve gained the understanding that it’s best to just get a viable product out there and tweak as I go, because that’s the best way to get value in the hands of those who need it most. It really boils down to a lack of confidence when we feel that everything has to be perfect before we let anybody else see it.

    I’ll be telling my friends about your article, and hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

    Talk soon,
    – Carol

    • Lea

      Hi Carol – Thank you.

      It’s good to want everything to be right before putting it on display. But you have to watch it because sometimes its just another way of self sabotage, like procrastinating.

      Yes, and there’s nothing wrong with updating things. Time changes as well has things. I mean look how many famous books have new editions and revisions. And if no one ever sees it because it wasn’t “perfect enough” it doesn’t get to serve it’s purpose, ever.

      Glad we’re on the same page. Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Hi Lea,

    I use to get in my own way a lot. I still do at times but not as often. I like that you said watch yourself too. Because that’s one of the hardest things to do is watch yourself. It’s a habit to keep our eyes on everyone but ourselves.

    But when we keep the focus on ourselves then we can see ourselves coming before the sabotage.

    Thank a lot!

    • Lea

      Hi Vernon – You’re absolutely right, it’s so much easier to look at others in the way you should be viewning yourself, especially if you’re accustom to it.

      Exactly! Nipping it right in the bud.

      Thank you!

  • Hi Lea,

    You know everything doesn’t go according to us. We all get distracted from our path. Like you have shared your experience about going to college and focusing on your career. People need to look at themselves as who they are and what they are doing right now? Knowing their real target is necessary.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    Hope you are enjoy your day:)
    ~Ravi

    • Lea

      Every day brings a distraction. You just have to find a way to bring it all back into focus. And also make sure that you’re not the one distracting yourself from what you really need to be doing. Thanks for commenting.

      Enjoy your weekend!

  • Hi Lea,

    Great post on self-sabotage. Thanks for sharing your story and I believe that many of us can relate with it because we have stories of our own. I think that at some point of our life or another, we are confronted with goals and plans that are scary and uncertain and it seems the best option is to have no forward motion. This has been a topic of much interest in my work in creativity and also in other areas where uncertainty and fear and perfectionism lock us in place.

    I agree that the first step begins with the self-awareness of the sabotage behaviors that we fall into. In the book “The Big Leap,” Gay Hendricks speaks of self sabotage and how common it is even in very high achievers. Taking the big leap or the jump into the next level of awesomeness requites shattering of the “Upper limit problem.”

    In short, we may be sabotaging your success and happiness because we deeply believe that we do not deserve it. When things are going great and we are experiencing more joy, happiness and success that we are usually used to, we may unknowingly engage in behaviors that bring us back into your familiar range of happiness or into the thermostat range that we are familiar with.

    We may express this desire for familiarity by beginning to worry or doubting our abilities. Hendricks says that the way out of this ubiquitous problem is to get acutely aware or through the “razor sharp focus of awareness.”

    I agree that accepting imperfection and launching our work continually is a big one. We need to remind ourselves that perfect is the enemy of the good and a friend of self-sabotage.

    Thanks!

    Harish

    • Lea

      Hi Harish – Thanks.

      Yes, the fear of just leaves you frozen in place. “Shattering of the upper limit problem,” I like that idea.

      That is a good point. Sometimes we even talk ourselves out of bigger things because we don’t think we deserve it. Familiarity is always comfortable, which it can make it hard to take that leap into the unknown.

      Thanks for the info from the book. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it but you’ve sparked my interest.

      Thank you again!

  • Hi Lea

    I love this post and I can relate to yo situation. There was a time in my life where I let fear dominate my decisions. I was all in the drama. It wasn’t easy for me going forward.

    I had to make a decision and that was to move forward no matter what. I had to overcome fear and stop being a saboteur. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lea

      Hi Ikechi – Thanks!

      Once you realize you’re the obstacle, that it self can be hard to overcome, it’s an inside job. It’s certainly hard but you have to do it to move on. Glad you did!

  • Lily Lau

    I know perfectly what you mean with self-sabotage… I love this post, it made me reflect so much! Cause speaking of which, I’d seen this post about prosthetic legs http://lazypenguins.com/industrial-design-and-prosthetic-legs-scott-summit-gives-the-answer/ and I’m sure I’d have given up one and a thousand times…

    • Lea

      Thanks Lily. I was hoping it would make people look within themselves.

  • Hi Lea,

    I can relate to what you’re saying here. I think for the most part we are all so super hard on ourselves to do better and be better. I never really went for the perfection stuff since I knew I would never achieve that. But I was hard on myself throughout my life and scared of the “what if’s”. I held myself back from having so much more of the life I had always wanted. Or the life I thought I wanted.

    I’m still learning to move through the fears, even at my age. That again is just part of life, the process we have to continue to go through in order to get to where we hope to be someday.

    Your tips are great and I’ll try to remember them the next time I catch myself doing just that! LOL!!!

    Great share Lea and thanks for this message. Hope you’re enjoying your week.

    ~Adrienne

    • Lea

      Hi Adrienne – That’s interesting, I haven’t come across to many people to haven’t gotten hung up on perfectionism at one point or another. You’re lucky! lol

      I know what you mean. I used to get stuck the “what if’s,” especially the what if it goes bad. It never seemed to go the other way around like, what if it works out great. I just had to remind myself that I could work it out either way.

      Thanks! Yes, please do. I want to hear about you getting over self-sabotage next, lol!

      Have a wonderful week Adrienne.

  • Jennifer Boyatt

    Lea, I think the story of my life has been self-sabotage! ha ha. I have had to get a whole toolkit to learn how to move past that, and I loved the reminders here in your post. Shared this on my twitter and facebook!

    • Lea

      Jennifer, you are not alone! 🙂 I’ve caught myself red handed a number of times, ha ha. It really takes a bit of work to stop self-sabotaging yourself.

      Thanks so much!

  • Navneet Kaur

    Hey Lea,

    This is a lovely post. At times we take some actions which we later regret and blame it all on our bad luck. This post urges us to look deep inside and see who we are and what we are portraying. Thinking negative and acting on it is the biggest sin and punishment we humans bestow on ourselves and we must refrain from doing it. Excellent post, loved every sentence of it.

    • Lea

      Hey Naveet – Thank you. You’re right, sometimes it tend to be everyone’s fault but your own.

      Thank you for noticing that’s exactly what I was trying to do. There are times when your actions don’t follow your true intent. Negativity is truly the biggest self inflicted punishment, I couldn’t have said it better.

      Thanks again! So glad you enjoyed it!!!

  • Hi Lea ma’am,

    It was helpful. I think we all can never be perfect and we should
    embrace our imperfections and failures in the same way as we accept our
    success. I loved the tips you presented on the blog.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day.

    Regards,

    Rohan Chaubey.

    • Lea

      Hi Rohan – I think an easy way to accept imperfection is to change your idea of perfection itself. If you look at it differently everything will be different. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Have a good day.

  • Hi Lea,

    I think we all have our share of fears and down times, and we need to accept the fact that we are only humans, make mistakes and aren’t perfect 🙂

    I know all of this is easier said than done, but self-talk helps in such cases. If you put all your energy and force into thinking positively to achieve your goals, nothing can stop you. Keep the negative thoughts aside – those that tell you – you cannot do it, and you can!

    Making mistakes is a part of life, and there is a lot they can teach you too, isn’t it? Accepting and learning from them, and moving on is the way it works 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    • Lea

      Hey Harleena! – Exactly, I couldn’t agree more. It took me a while to accept that but know I know it’s ok to make mistakes. I now look at it has a lesson learned.

      Yes, totally we shouldn’t dwell on mistakes. Just take what you can from them and move forward.

      That self talk tip is a good point. Thanks for sharing it!

      Have a great week.

  • ‘When you try to do new things there always seems to be that voice in the back of your head that says you’re in over your head.’

    I personally think this is the biggest enemy to change and growth. Belief. We self-sabotage because we don’t truly believe that the goal is possible and so subconsciously seek out reasons and excuses for how and why it won’t come to pass. Anyone who has a cast-iron guarantee of a greatly desired outcome if they do x, y and z, will be more than willing to do what needs to be done. I think the difficulty for us is when that outcome feels more like a maybe than a certainty. It’s hard to commit fully to a process with everything in us when we’re not sure how it’s going to turn out. This is a really great subject to be posting on and I absolutely love the tips you’ve outlined. All three speak specifically to the main challenges I’ve known when trying to transition into something new, and I think it’s a similar thing for most others too. Great post!

    • Lea

      So true! I definitely know what you mean.

      While you may not be certain about the outcome you should be certain that you’ll find a way to work things out even if they go a little left. That’s how I try to look at things now.

      Thanks Micah!

  • Hi Lea
    Great post with some excellent tips. I particularly like the one about accepting imperfections. On an intellectual level, we know the absurdity of expecting to be perfect–whatever that means anyway–but on the level of feeling, we are kind of aiming for that on a deeper level.

    I have found another great way to minimize self-sabotage is to work on aligning our energy with our desired outcomes, and working through limiting beliefs that contradict whatever goal we hope to achieve. This leads us to taking more effective action and our intuition kicks in and helps things go more smoothly.

    • Lea

      Hi Kelli – Thanks a lot! It’s crazy how sometimes you know things are off but still abide by it to a certain extent.

      That tip sounds effective. Thanks for that tip. What is one way someone would align their energy with the desired outcome?

  • Junie

    Hi Lea,

    Thanks for this great post. My self sabotage is lack of confidence or belief in myself. Sometimes I think I can’t do something, especially if it’s bigger than what I anticipate.

    But I get usually get past that by talking it over with a close friend or family. They always help me see things from a different perspective. And point out a strength I have that will help me with whatever new role or project I aim to take on. Otherwise I really do trip over myself. 🙂

    Enjoy your week.

    • Lea

      Hey Junie, thanks for coming back – I know what you mean. Sometimes when I start something then when I think about all the rest that I have to do I get a bit discouraged also.

      It’s really good that you have someone who can help you see things differently. Sometimes we do need that to realize something right under our noses. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Enjoy your week as well.

  • Hi Lea,
    You raise great points on self-sabotage. I used to be afraid of things not being perfect until I realized that nothing in life is perfect! So I just carry onward on my journey and if there is a mistake I just fix it without any emotional strain.

    I do like the idea of watching yourself! There were so many tweaks I had to make during my life, that now I can acknowledge those “red flags” when I can fall into an old trait. I like to put that international no symbol in front of that thought and do what I need to do for my journey.

    Great stuff!
    -Donna

    • Lea

      Hi Donna – That’s great! Having emotional control is a great skill when you have to make adjustments.

      Changing your behavior is really a process. I had to do the same myself. It’s so easy to fall back into old habits, they’re just so comfortable, even if they’re bad for us. Thanks for sharing how you handle it.

  • Hi Lea
    Lovely post indeed on self-sabotage. For me it was years of fear, self doubt and anxiety. I was mainly afraid of failing at anything so that meant I also had to deal with the fact that we are not perfect beings and will make mistakes, I got over these mainly through faith and spirituality and reading what the good book says.

    • Lea

      Hi Yvonne – Accepting imperfection was a tough one for me too. I always like to do things right whenever possible. Now I realize that sometimes it’ll take more than once and that making a mistake isn’t the end of the world. You can still come back from it.

      Thanks for sharing how you got over it!

  • Fear of failure is a huge roadblock for all of us. It causes us to not do the things we should do that would allow us to achieve the results we want. Great read here!

    • Lea

      Exactly! Even if you fail there is still something to be gain, so it’s still kind of a win. We just have to realize that. Thanks Dan!

  • Great post! imperfection and doing it afraid are two BIG hurdles I had to get over in order to stop self sabotage.

    • Lea

      Thanks Tiffany! I had the trouble myself. I guess if you really want things to be perfect you have to change your idea of perfection.

  • I think we have a stifling fear of failure and a massive love of comfort. It leads to lots of problems: procrastination, materialism, and wasting our life.

    • Lea

      It’s really crazy how the massive love of comfort can cause such issues. When you think comfort you expect it to be a good thing. But as you live you realize it can have a negative impact.

      I guess we have to consider what is scarier: failure or not making progress.